Avid outdoorsman and underwater photographer, Barry Brown has spent the last 12 years documenting life above and below water in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. He is currently working with the Smithsonian Institution documenting new Caribbean deep-water species and building a one of a kind database. His underwater images can regularly be seen in Sport Diver, Scuba Diver and on the Ikelite website. His image of a "Collage of Corals" seen under blue-light at night recently placed in the TOP 10 images for the 2014 NANPA (North American Nature Photographers Association) photo contest.
Archive for January, 2010
Jan 31, 10 Comments Off on School of SmallMouth Grunts and Goatfish in Curacao
Hi my friends, by the lack of mail this weekend I am guessing everyone is keeping busy and away from the computers! Today I really didn’t do much for once. I drove the dogs to Saint Joris bay for a two hour hike in search of driftwood and sea urchins but really didn’t find much, it was just a nice windy walk!! The dogs had a blast this morning, they chased each other until finally they were beat and walked back to the car covered in salt and sand and soaking wet. Once home I washed the dogs put them to bed and took off on a two hour shopping spree. Here in Curacao it is impossible to find everything you need at one store so you have to go to three, sounds like fun huh?? At 5:00 I took off on an hour and a half bike ride which turned out to be the most excitement I had all day.
Here’s a school of fish in black and white for you, the fish with stripes are called small mouth grunts and the others are goatfish. This is a common Curacao reef scene, this was shot the other day when Aimee and I were diving together and found that big octopus.
See you later, Barry
Jan 30, 10 Comments Off on Spondylus Americanus, Atlantic Thorny Oyster
Good evening guys, here’s another colorful sea creature from the Brown studio. This is a beautiful Spondylus or as it’s more commonly called, a Spiny Oyster or a Thorny Oyster. This is another specimen I borrowed from work and just couldn’t wait to get it home to play with. I thought photographing this would be super easy but it turned out to be another big challenge and I had to make another special holder for it. You would think these spines would be fragile but they are not. These oysters are found all over the reef attached or should I say cemented to all kinds of rocks and dead coral heads and those spines help keep unwanted predators from attacking them. These oysters also love to make their homes on any kind of rusted materials, they are all over the side of the Superior Producer and on all the posts that hold up the piers around the island. Spondylus have multiple eyes around the edges of the shell, and they have a relatively well developed nervous systems. Obviously the shells are very attractive making them a hot commodity on the shell market, seashell collectors just love them! What I have noticed from diving is that they are very hard to see. The shells don’t look like this underwater, they are covered in moss and encrusting sponges you really have to look to see them and if your real still you may be able to observe them while feeding and get to see their colorful mantle.
Crazy day at work, so glad I am home!! Many thanks for the notes, couldn’t do this without your continuing support! Enjoy your weekend, Barry
Jan 29, 10 Comments Off on Laughing Dolphin, Dolphin Underwater, Curacao
Good evening from the Caribbean. I hope everyone had a good Friday and I’m sure your glad it’s the weekend, get out there and enjoy it!! Aimee and I both worked today and after I took the dogs for a walk while Aimee went to the movies with some friends and probably won’t be home for a few hours still. Many thanks for all the compliments today, we sure did get a whole lot of mail and we love it!!
I did a snorkel a few days ago in one of the dolphin lagoons, no tank, no flash, just me and the camera. Many times when I have a tank or the flashes on the camera the dolphins act scared and won’t come near me so this time I just tried my luck at free-diving. All in all I still didn’t do very well, I was in there for an hour and a half and finally just said “forget it” you guys are a pain! Well as I was headed out Teresa seen here swam right up to me and opened her mouth, it looked like she was laughing at me!! So with that I snapped one photo said thanks and out I went, I think they were just playing hard to get or something!
My head is fried tonight, gonna go watch some t.v. see you tomorrow, Barry
Jan 28, 10 Comments Off on Big Beautiful Common Octopus in Curacao
Good evening one and all, how was your day?? Mine was down right fantastic!! We started off the day with a nice much needed rain shower, something this island needed very bad! Aimee took the dogs on a fun run and I met some friends of ours who are here on vacation at the moment from Holland and off we went to the best sea glass beach in Curacao. I think it’s safe to say we all had a great time collecting polished glass shards of every color and shape and with every in-coming wave there is a whole new selection to choose from, it’s really great!! After around an hour we all figured we had enough for now and off we went in different ways. The minute I got home I started putting my underwater camera together and trying to find all my dive gear. Turns out I had to go to the aquarium to get the rest of my gear and while there I picked up two tanks from Hans owner of the new Sea Aquarium Animal Encounters Dive Shop, you can check out his new site at; www.curious2dive.com Once I located everything at the aquarium I took off back home to pick up Aimee and the camera and then off we went to the World famous Dive Bus Hut; www.the-dive-bus.com Here we unloaded the car and got ready for our long overdo dive, Aimee and I couldn’t even remember when we last dove together, it had been that long!! We jumped in around 11:30 and off we went in search of adventure. For some reason today I brought my 28-70 lens and for once I had the right lens as everything we found would have been way to big for the macro and not quite big enough for the wide angle. We first hunted for a possible Lionfish but never found it as it was only a rumor of it being there anyways. While searching for interesting photos I came across a nice little gold spotted eel and then a beautiful purple sea anemone it was just what I needed to get used to my camera and being underwater again. About half way thru the dive I was shooting a big school of grunts when Aimee signaled me by banging on her tank to get over here ASAP!! She pointed down at the reef and there just hanging out was this very big Common Octopus!! Folks this guy was just spectacular, maybe one of the biggest I have ever seen! And to find him out during the day cruising all over the corals, well it was just to good to be true! He was turning all different colors right in front of our eyes so we kind of just sat back and watched from a distance and enjoyed the show. I think we followed him around the reef for 10-15 minutes until he finally went down inside a metal girder and with that Aimee waved good-bye and off we went. The next thing we found was a beautiful little red frogfish, but he was too far down inside a sheet of firecoral to get any kind of a decent photo, but getting to see him was great. I noticed Aimee was getting cold so we started to head back and within minutes we surfaced with a face full of smiles! After rinsing dive gear and cleaning the camera I then took off on some errands around town like picking up my bike and returning the tanks. At 5:00 Aimee had a meeting at work and I went on a one hour bike ride but felt very tired still from the dive. I have to remember no diving and biking on the same day unless I go biking first, hmmmmm.
Aimee just made incredible authentic red enchilada’s with grilled chicken, fried potatoes and topped with an egg, that has to be one of my favorite dishes!! Ok, I am tired now, long day, my returned Mac is working great so glad to have it back!! Thanks for all the notes, you folks are the best!! Curacao regards, Barry
Jan 27, 10 Comments Off on Jumping Dolphin, Dolphin Academy, Curacao
Hey gang, I just got home from a long day at work and am sitting here relaxing with a nice cup of Highlander Groog. We had a very nice weather day in Curacao today and the water looked like it was perfect for diving. I may actually go diving tomorrow if the conditions stay like this, I know a lot of you are missing the underwater pictures but it has been nice taking this long needed break.
I really don’t have much for you all tonight, this is a photo of one of our dolphins soaring high in the sky during one of the daily shows. I think many of you would be amazed at just how high these animals can jump out of the water, I know it blew me away the first time I ever saw it!!
Tomorrow morning I am meeting some friends and taking them to the polished sea glass spot to do some collecting, that’s always a guaranteed good time. After that Aimee and I are either going to shoot more trash or do a dive and then maybe go riding if my bike is finished at the shop.
I’m out, thanks for all the compliments on the pelican photo, Barry
Jan 26, 10 Comments Off on Brown Pelican in Curacao, Caribbean Pelicans
Good evening friends of the blog, tonight I have a request photo that was supposed to be sent out last week to a friend who asked for a Pelican photo. This is one of our many local Brown Pelicans that spend their days hanging out at the Sea Aquarium entertaining guests all day long. I once told Dutch who is the owner of the Aquarium that the Pelicans, Frigate Birds and the Iguanas get photographed more in one day then anything else on the property, maybe they should be part of the show?? There are more than half a dozen species of pelicans, but all of them have the famous throat pouch for which the birds are best known. These large birds use their elastic pouches to catch fish though different species use it in different ways. Pelicans are found on many of the world’s coastlines and also along lakes and rivers. They are social birds and typically travel in flocks, often strung out in a line. They also breed in groups called colonies, which typically gather on islands. In North America, the brown pelican is endangered, but populations are recovering to some extent. The sea birds were devastated by chemical pesticides, such as DDT, which damaged the eggs of pelicans and many other species. The average life span in the wild is 10-25 years but can be longer. They have an unbelievable wing-span of almost 10 feet (3 meters) and can be 6 feet in length and weigh up to 30 pounds, that’s a big bird folks!!The Brown Pelican is the national bird of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and state bird of Louisiana. It is also one of the mascots of Tulane University and is on its seal because of the Louisiana connection.
Well the good news of the day for me is, I got my laptop back today thanks to a new friend traveling to Aruba and another friend bringing it from Aruba to Curacao today, talk about knowing the right people! Many, many thanks to all that helped get this to me, it started in Arizona then to Michigan, then to Virginia, then to Aruba and finally home to daddy!
I was off today, I first took the dogs out for a morning of trail work and we re-opened a section of trail that has been closed due to broken glass and loose rocks but it’s open now. After I got home I then spent the whole day doing necessary errands around town, like grocery shopping, banking and the bike shop just to name a few. At 4:30 I took off on the bike and didn’t get home till 6:40. I had a really nice ride tonight joined by a bunch of friends and I only crashed once! Too much air in the front tire I am guessing??
That’s it, have a friend coming over in a minute, I have to go. Peace out, Barry
Jan 25, 10 Comments Off on Tiny Blue Crab Inside a Bottle at Low Tide, Curacao
Hi all, how is your Monday going?? Or should I ask? Mine went fast like every day on this island. Curacao again got blown away today by super strong winds which in turn created giant waves! When I was outside today photographing the dolphins it seemed like almost every hour a set of extra large waves would roll in and just pound the side of the coast with a deafening crash and send walls of water and sea foam into the lagoons! I tell you it’s a wonder my cameras survive a month in this hostile salty environment, it’s really no place for electronics!
This photo’s for Emily who was with me when we came across this tiny little blue crab at low tide investigating the inside of this old bottle. These beautiful little crabs occupy almost ever single little shell just below the waters surface. These are not hermit crabs, they can not live for long on land they must have water but are known to come ashore to search for new shells during low tides as long as the sand is still moist. For you locals the next time your at the ocean and it’s low tide, just get down on all fours and stop and look, all those tiny, tiny shells you see slowly moving has one of these cuties inside.
That’s about it, all is well, be back tomorrow, Barry
Jan 24, 10 Comments Off on Polluted Beaches, Caribbean Trash, Curacao
Good evening all, one of my readers wrote to me and said, I love your daily photos but why do you post photo of trash?? My answer to this is, Awareness!! Curacao is just like any other country, they have a big trash problem here and very little seems to be done about it. This amazing pile-o-trash, mostly floating plastic items is at the mouth of Saint Joris Bay on the beautiful North coast. That’s our dear Emily standing above the trash heap looking down onto it wondering just where did all of it come from?? Every time we get big waves from a storm or high tide this stuff gets deposited here and every year this pile just gets bigger and bigger. For the life of me I personally can’t figure out why the government here doesn’t clean this stuff up, it’s located in prime tourist area and is seen by everyone that visits. So friends do your best to recycle your plastics and glass it really does help.
I had a very busy day starting at 7:00. I drove the dogs over to the salt ponds and we did a two hour hike and a little trail cleaning. When I got home I grabbed the bike and took off on a fast one hour ride. On my way back home on a trail I built I took a corner to fast and down I went in a cloud of dust! Good thing no one was around. I cut up my arm, elbow, hip and leg and crawled home on a semi broken bike, it’s like we say, if your not bleeding, your not speeding!! After that I put my underwater camera together and went to work and did a two hour snorkel with the dolphins, yeah I know rough life. I really didn’t get any great shots today the dolphins kept their distance, they really hate these big underwater cameras! After that I went back home and worked in my little studio playing with sea urchins again and by the time I finished it was dinner time!!
Hop all is well with you guys, talk to you soon, Barry
Jan 23, 10 Comments Off on Sand Dollar, Sand Pancake, Echinoderms, Curacao
Hey guys, just a quick note this evening, I have learned over the years that there are very few people who respond to my blogs on the weekends so I will just keep it short.
This is a Sand Pancake or a Sand Dollar, some call it by one name and some call it another. I got this specimen from work the other day and brought it home to play with in the Brown “mini studio”. This is again only the skeleton, the live animals live under the sand, and at night would most likely be the only time you would ever see one alive. Again just something different from the aqua world we now live in!!
We are headed out to dinner, talk to you tomorrow, Barry
Jan 22, 10 Comments Off on Tallest Point in Curacao, Mount Christoffel, Hiking
Good evening all, mega winds and monster waves are really stirring up our little island, it looked like the North shore of Hawaii at the Sea Aquarium today!! Honestly today was some of the biggest waves I have seen roll in around here, it was one big crash after another!! Usually when waves hit they get stopped by our mountains of giant boulders that surround the aquarium but today they hit and exploded over the top! I spent almost all day outside photographing dolphins and was amazed at the amount of salt spray flying thru the air. Before I took my camera out in that mess I cut the leg off one of my old wetsuits and made a full length neoprene cover that went over the whole camera, it worked great!!
Our dear Emily left today, to say she will be missed in an understatement, everyone loves her!! Emily is on her way to being a first rate veterinarian and was here working with Aimee and studding the dolphins and learning more about them. She has worked in Africa and is going back soon again, I think she should be doing a daily blog!! So Emily we hope you are safe and sound back home and thanks again for everything, we loved our Christmas gifts!!
This is Aimee at the top of mount Christoffel, she was actually the highest point on the island for a short time! You can really see just how high up we are, this is around 1300 feet above sea level and like I said before the view is amazing!!
Hope you all are doing well, enjoy the weekend, Barry
Jan 21, 10 Comments Off on Spirula, Ram’s Horn Squid, Ram’s Horn Shell
Good afternoon friends, I have a meeting at work early this afternoon so am getting this out early today. I had a friend ask about the Spirula Ram’s Horn Squid shells that we find here so today I got them all out and made a little tree out of them. Actually the tree is made from a dead sea fan I found washed ashore and the colorful base is a few of the beautiful colors of beach glass that we find near the house. Spirula is a species of deepwater squid-like cephalopod mollusk. It is the only extant member of the genus Spirula, the family Spirulidae, and the order Spirulida. It is commonly known as the ram’s horn squid or little post horn squid. Live specimens of this cephalopod are very rarely seen, because it is a deep ocean dweller. These shells your looking at act as a Buoyancy organ inside the body of the squid. The chambers are filled with gas which keeps the spirula in a vertical, head-down posture. The posterior also contains a light-emitting organ that can glow for hours at a time. Aimee and I find one or two of these almost every time we head to the North coast. They are very buoyant and fairly strong so the shells can drift out to sea for a long time until they finally end up on some beach waiting to be picked up and taken home.
It’s super windy here today and the waves are big, not a great day for being outside! I wish I had more for you all, need to get moving. Bye, Barry
Jan 20, 10 Comments Off on Trupial Sitting on Bromeliads, Christoffel Park, Curacao
Good evening readers, here’s another beautiful trupial from high atop mount Christoffel. This flying beauty was sitting on a perch made of ball moss, air plants and epiphytic bromeliads. These trupials seem to eat just about anything they can find and this one here was hunting for insects or small lizards that hide in these bromeliads.
These little bromeliads he’s sitting on can also hold water for long periods of time meaning these trupials may also be also feeding on small frogs as well. I have watched these birds for years and they really are smart and aggressive, they love getting into trash and will chase off any other smaller birds. These birds also have the most unusual and beautiful sounds you will ever here, it’s so distinctive that no matter where you are when you hear it you know there’s a trupial near by.
That’s it for tonight, we all worked today, it was hot and windy!! See you soon, Barry
Jan 19, 10 Comments Off on Christoffel View, Mount Christoffel, Hiking Christoffel
Good evening friends, I want to first say, for those of you trying to call me today there is something wrong with my phone!! I can hear you guys on the other end nice and clear but you can’t hear me. If you need to contact me, call our home number it’s 461-7016 or Aimee at 527-1232, will get a new phone ASAP!
This is Aimee at the top of Mount Christoffel. Behind her is the south side of the island and just 37 miles across that stretch of sea is Venezuela. The views on top of Christoffel are nothing short of spectacular, you can see the ocean on all sides and really lets you know your on a Caribbean island. I may be going back here on Sunday for the whole day to do photography, I have always wanted to just take my time and see what can be found.
This morning I went with Emily and the dogs back to the North coast for another fun morning walk. It was windy again but we still had a great time. We found some ultra tiny flowers growing out of the limestone and tried hard to get a photo but in the end the wind was just too much! We ended up looking for small shells and wading the whole way back in the water and other than Indi and Inca finding every dead smelly fish along the shore it was a great time.
I spent a good part of my day inside in my little studio shooting more urchins and other cool shells, those are on the way. At 4:20 I left for a two hour mountain bike ride with some friends. The weather is just perfect right now, not to hot and a little breeze, it was just a perfect evening for riding.
That’s about it, Emily and Aimee went out to eat I was just to tired to go. Be back tomorrow, Barry
Jan 18, 10 Comments Off on Northcoast Waves and Rainbows, Curacao
Hi gang, as promised here is the rainbow from yesterdays walk to the North coast. This is where the sea meets the land with such incredible force that it sends each wave high into the air creating a cloud of salty mist! In the mist you can see these beautiful rainbows but they only last a few seconds and getting close enough to capture one usually means your going to get soaked as well. And I did!! Emily was standing guard yelling at me to watch out but there was only so much she could do! Again, the things I do for a photo!
It was a crazy day at work and when 4:30 rolled around I ran from that place! Emily and I took the dogs on a very short walk and then called in an order of Chinese food, that’s pretty much my day.
Sorry so short and boring, more tomorrow, Barry
Jan 17, 10 Comments Off on Jesus Clouds, Beautiful Clouds with Sun Rays, Curacao
Good afternoon all, it’s so windy out that I just want to stay inside today! Emily and I took the dogs to the North coast this morning and we did some more trash photos. At the entrance to Saint Joris bay where the untamed ocean meets the land there are a few coves there that are piled deep with every kind of plastic container known to man that has floated in over the years. As Emily and Indi stood high above on the rocks I was below shooting the trash but we had to stop because of this big cloud that came and blocked out the sun but at the same time creating a unique photo of it’s own. We ended up having a pretty fun morning although I ended up getting pretty wet. We were walking along these shear cliffs when I yelled out to Emily, “be careful…. and before I could finish my sentence a monster wave from below rolled in and hit the side of the rocks and soaked me! I was going to say” be careful not to stand here” but never even got the words out of my mouth! And we were at least 25 feet above the water line! After that we walked further down as far as we could until we were standing on the North coast just looking out at nothing but rough seas. There the waves rolled in one by one and smashed into the coast, it sounded like thunder and in the mist and spray was a beautiful rainbow each time, I’ll send that out tomorrow. The important part is the dogs had a great time and are now asleep.
Aimee and Emily are working today I may jump on the bike and go riding later but really hate to be out in this stupid wind! Hope your having a great weekend, Barry